Iowa Republicans may be able to enact a near-total abortion ban soon, depending on how the U.S. Supreme Court and Iowa Supreme Court resolve pending abortion cases.
But the three Democrats hoping to succeed retiring Polk County Attorney John Sarcone have all ruled out charging people for potential crimes related to having or performing an abortion.
Iowa's county attorneys have broad discretion over which criminal charges they pursue.
Kimberly Graham has made her position clear since January, when she promised in a video message that if Iowa passes a law banning abortion, "I will not be prosecuting women, or doctors, or nurses, or people that drive them, drive folks to have an abortion. I will not be prosecuting them. Because in my opinion, it is a complete waste of taxpayer money, and it does not make us any safer."
If elected Polk County Attorney, my office will not be prosecuting people for having an abortion. Nor will we be prosecuting doctors or nurses for performing an abortion. pic.twitter.com/ABVlnyueaB— Kimberly Graham for Polk County Attorney (@KimberlyforIowa) January 14, 2022
Graham re-upped the tweet after news broke this week that the U.S. Supreme Court may have five votes to overturn the Roe v Wade precedent. "Ask your local prosecutor (and/or people running to be your local prosecutor) whether or not they will prosecute people for having or providing an abortion," Graham wrote. "This will likely be the next battleground for reproductive rights in this country."
Two other Democrats are running for the law enforcement position in Iowa's most populous county. Laura Roan told Bleeding Heartland via email, "I value the reproductive rights of Iowa women. As Polk County Attorney, I will not prosecute abortion crimes."
Similarly, Kevin McCarthy said in an email message, "The government should not be involved in the decisions made between a woman and her health care provider. I will not prosecute such matters."
Those pledges are important not only to nearly 500,000 Iowans living in Polk County, but also to patients from elsewhere who obtain abortion services at Planned Parenthood's Rosenfield Health Center in Des Moines.
The winner of the June 7 Democratic primary will be favored in the general election against Allan Richards, the first Polk County attorney candidate Republicans have fielded in decades. According to the latest official voter registration totals, Polk contains 115,420 active registered Democrats, 78,200 Republicans, and 80,953 no-party voters.
Top image, from left: Kimberly Graham, Laura Roan, and Kevin McCarthy, Democratic candidates for Polk County attorney.